As we inch closer to the 2019 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some difficult decisions to make, but the Combine might make some decisions a little easier.
Josh Jacobs – RB – Alabama
The field is wide open for Josh Jacobs as being one of the most talented running backs in a position that is thin in the draft. Projected to go late in the first round in many mock drafts, Jacobs could always improve his own standing as a can’t miss talent.
From a combined five touchdowns from 2016-2018, Jacobs exploded for 11 in the 2018-2019 season. Should the Bucs trade down to get two first round picks, he’s certainly worthy of his projected pick as a game changer.
Head coach Bruce Arians’ praise of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, Jr. should be little more than just window dressing, not wanting to show his poker hand. He would certainly be a reach at no. 5 given the pressing needs at other positions and higher value, but a good combine could make Jacobs the Bucs’ next star back Doug Martin never was.
Montez Sweat – EDGE – Mississippi St.
Gerald McCoy’s role in 2019 with the Bucs is a bit of a head scratcher at best depending on how he’ll be used. If defensive coordinator Todd Bowles favors the 3-4 more than say the 4-3 or on passing downs, he opts for the 3-3-5 as opposed to the traditional nickel and dime packages, McCoy’s value will depend if he can switch from being the defensive tackle in the 4-3, nickel and dime packages to being an edge rusher in the 3 line set.
The Oakland Raiders attempted the make Warren Sapp a 3-4 edge rusher after his time with the Bucs primarily as the 4-3. Unfortunately, Sapp was never as effective since before ultimately retiring.
Similar questions will arise for McCoy as the combine nears. Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat is projected to drop to the mid-1st round to a team like the Green Bay Packers, but a dominant combine could see the Bucs take him since he could very well compliment Jason Pierre-Paul on the other side and eventually replace him should he decide to retire in Tampa Bay or find another team. Sweat doesn’t have the size of Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, and Clenlin Ferrell, but what he lacks in size, his speed would be ideal in Bowles’ defense.
Taylor Rapp – Safety – Washington
The Bucs haven’t had such an iconic hard hitter that made opposing quarterbacks think twice before throwing his direction since safety John Lynch. Taylor can provide that clutch hitting in the secondary that can make receivers drop balls that was sorely missing during Dirk Koetter’s tenure as head coach. The secondary has lacked the swagger as a pass defense to be feared with the team being in the proverbial basement under DC Mike Smith. That won’t fly in Bowles defense. If his defense can’t get to the QB, then the secondary can’t afford to get torched.
The hard-hitting style of Rapp would fit Bowles aggressive scheme provided he can provide the closing speed he needs in the system. While sharing the same stats as Nasir Adderley of Delaware, it’s Adderley’s versatility that could get him snatched up before Rapp either in the late first round or early second.